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Drums Along the Mohawk

(1939 c 103')

En: 7 Ed: 7

Based on a novel by Walter Edmonds, a newly wed couple tries to farm in the Mohawk valley, but they face Indian attacks during the Revolutionary War.

In 1776 Lana (Claudette Colbert) weds Gilbert Martin (Henry Fonda) in her parents' comfortable home; then they leave for the Mohawk valley. At a tavern Caldwell (John Carradine) tells them the Indians are siding with the British. During a rainstorm they arrive at the cabin Gilbert built. Lana sees an Indian and screams; but Gilbert says it is Blue Back (Chief Big Tree), who is a Christian. Crying Lana says she wants to go home; but Gilbert calms her down, and Blue Back gives him a cane to use on her. Gilbert and Lana work at haying and visit the fort, where Gilbert is enlisted under General Herkimer (Roger Imhof). Neighbors help Gilbert clear his land while Mrs. Weaver (Jessie Ralph) learns that Lana is pregnant. Blue Back says Indians are coming; they are led by Caldwell and burn the hay and the cabin as everyone flees into the fort.

Lana suggests to Gilbert that they work for widow Sarah McKlennar (Edna May Oliver), who hires them. They attend church, where Rev. Rosenkrantz (Arthur Shields) says a Tory army is coming, and any man not reporting for duty will be hanged. Gilbert marches off with the other men. An old man tells Sarah the women are ordered into the fort, but she refuses to go. Men return in the rain, and wounded are brought into Sarah's house. Lana finds Gilbert left behind and treats his wound as he tells what happened. General Herkimer loses his leg and dies. Lana has a baby boy, making nervous Gilbert happy. At a dance Adam (Ward Bond) kisses Sarah.

Two Indians burn Sarah's house while she complains. Adam tells Gilbert and Lana they must go to the fort, which is attacked by Indians while Caldwell and the British watch. Dying Sarah gives her place to Gilbert and Lana. Ammunition is low, and Joe Boleo (Francis Ford) sneaks out to get help; but he is captured. Indians, trying to burn Joe, are shot from the fort. As the flames near Joe, Rev. Rosenkrantz shoots him. Adam is wounded, and Gilbert tells Lana he must go for help. Gilbert gets away, but he is chased by three Indians for miles. The fort is attacked again. As Indians enter, American forces arrive to save some. Weary Gilbert finds Lana and the baby. In the final scene as the fort is repaired, American soldiers leave because the war is won.

This frontier touched by the War of Independence symbolizes America, which is likely to be soon pulled into another world war. The sentiment expressed by the minister and leading characters is that every American must fight for their freedom from tyranny and hostile attacks.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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